Commentary

NY Bill Will Give Illegals a Driver's License, but Officials Are Already Sounding Off

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Should illegal aliens have the exact same privileges as lawful immigrants and American citizens?

That question has been at the heart of the immigration debate for years, effectively split down the liberal-conservative political divide. While it is, of course, a national issue, one state in particular will soon have to deal with the matter at the local level.

A bill currently pending in New York would allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, giving them a key identification document that would be essentially the same as anyone else in the state.

While the plan is being hailed by liberals, some county clerks are sounding the alarm over potential abuse, and already declaring that they won’t issue licenses to illegal aliens.

State assembly bill A3675A “authorizes the department of motor vehicles to issue standard drivers’ licenses and restricts what information can be retained and given out on those applying or holding standard drivers’ licenses,” the official summary of the proposed legislation states.

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Think of it as a “sanctuary” policy for driver’s licenses throughout New York state. Basically, the bill says that authorities can’t require a person to show that they’re a citizen or lawful resident before being handed an official license.

This “would allow undocumented immigrants to get a New York driver’s license, using a foreign passport and without a Social Security number,” reported WRGB News in Albany. But now a standoff between local clerks and state authorities is brewing.

And it’s showing up just across the Hudson River from Albany, in Rensselaer County.

“I’m going to refuse to issue a driver’s license to anyone who comes into my office that can’t prove to us they’re here legally,” Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola, a Republican, told WRGB.

Should local officials refuse to issue ID's to illegal aliens?

“Federal law states we’re not allowed to aid someone who comes into our office who is here illegally.”

It might be one thing if a driver’s license only pertained to, well, driving and nothing else. But as everyone knows, the licenses function as accepted state identifications for almost everything these days — and that’s why many people are alarmed about the potential for voter fraud and other abuses.

“Rennselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin says he believes this legislation is all wrong and is really a political move to give undocumented immigrants the chance to vote,” explained WRGB.

McLaughlin, also a Republican, has pledged to stand with Merola to send a clear message to state lawmakers.

“My approach is, we’re not going to give these licenses to illegal immigrants. People have already violated this law by breaking into this country and we view this bill as kind of waiving all that,” McLaughlin said.

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Although the bill is still in committee, it’s widely expected to proceed to the governor’s desk. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, would almost certainly sign it into law.

But some conservatives state officials are joining the local officials in speaking out about the legislation.

“Giving driver’s licenses to those here illegally sends the wrong message to honest, law-abiding citizens and those who are trying to do the right thing and have been in line for quite some time to become American citizens,” Republican state Sen.Jim Tedisco told WRGB.

That’s a very good point. If increasingly liberal states like New York and California continue to reward lawbreaking aliens, why would any immigrant try to do the right thing by following the rules?

It’s common sense that when you encourage something, it tends to increase.

More and more, it looks like liberals are purposely trying to attract illegal aliens and hand them citizen-like identification documents … and it might be a good idea to start asking why.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.




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